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Tour de France

Road back to Tour de France for Nairo Quintana goes through Pyrénées

Colombian star returns from injury to race the Route d’Occitanie.

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Nairo Quintana and his road back to the Tour de France goes through the French Pyrénées.

The three-time Tour podium finisher will race the Route d’Occitanie this week in his final tuneup before returning to his third Tour with Arkéa-Samsic.

“The big climbs in this race serve me well for the Tour de France,” Quintana said. “I hope to have good sensations both as a test and for a result.”

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The 32-year-old Colombian is racing for the first time since crashing out of the Tour of Turkey in April.

“I feel good physically, I have recovered perfectly from my crash during the Tour of Turkey,” Quintana said in a team press release. “The Route d’Occitanie is a race that I know well and that I like a lot. I have already won it twice, so I am confident that I can do well in this race.”

Quintana won early in the season, and hit fifth at Paris-Nice and fourth at the Volta a Catalunya.

Formerly called the Route du Sud, the race runs June 16-19 with four stages across southern France. This year’s route doesn’t tackle any of the major climbs featured in the Tour, but Saturday’s stage hits three first-category climbs before the Cat. 3 finish at Les Angles.

“The race route is suitable for him. He will be able to get his bearings on a race with high mountain stages,” said sport director Roger Tréhin. “The goal will be to enjoy the race and to find good sensations. We are not going to put too much pressure on him, even if he will inevitably have it.

“Nairo hasn’t raced since Turkey, and we will do everything we can to ensure that he gets the best possible result on this Occitanie 2022 route.”